What is this we see? A non-division game? Does the NHL front office know this is happening? Of course, nothing’s ever good enough for us, and we can’t help but kick things off by complaining that the best we can get after enduring nine straight Atlantic Division opponents is the Thrashers. It’s almost like it wasn’t worth the wait.
As it turns out, Thanksgiving was not kind to Patty, who is flu-y and out tonight. Who will we complain about if he’s not skating? Gio’s sure got his work cut out for him in this one. (Oh, and we told Patty to stay away from the oyster stuffing, but did he listen? He’s incorrigible.)
Doc and Chico lead off with a warning that Kovulchuk is really good. Yes, we’ve noticed that about him, and it’s only one of many reasons we’re so thrilled about the Devils’ chances here.
What the hell? We go to commercial and see what seems like a 10-second spot for something called “Headbangers”, a large bowling action figure toy. Pookie: “Forget a new laptop. I want that for Christmas.”
20:00 Before the puck is dropped Doc and Chico tell us Don Waddell was at a mall at 5:00 this morning getting a great sale price on a table saw. Surely this is something the Devils can exploit later in this game, right?
19:07 Hedberg makes a great glove save on a backhand shot by Pando. Yeah, it’s not 2001 anymore.
17:25 It warrants mention that PaulieMartinNation is understatedly rejoicing because Paulie’s back in the lineup. Also not grievously injured? Travis, who we hope had his aversion to acorns knocked out of him on that neck-injuring hit in Pittsburgh.
16:40 Kovalchuk storms down the wing with speed, then feeds to some random Thrasher in the slot, but Paulie manages to inadvertently get in the way of the ensuing shot.
15:11 It looks like the same old Devils so far – every time the puck is in the Devils zone the Thrashers get to throw three or four shots toward the net, but every time the puck is in Atlanta’s zone the Devils settle on a weak outside shot that Hedberg easily handles. (Here he freezes Zach’s shot and the “Mooooose” chant swells from the crowd. Doc and Chico discuss the transference of the Moose nickname for Hedberg, and Chico concludes, “He’s more agile than a moose. Like a big cat between the pipes.” Pookie: “Or like a particularly agile moose.”)
12:08 Kozlov shanks a shot on a well-conceived rush, and Pookie glumly predicts he’ll get a hat trick tonight.
11:45 Doc informs us the Devils are outshooting the Thrashers 4-2. That is only by virtue of the Thrashers missing the net about 16 times. And that the Devils have blocked 14,000 shots so far.
10:18 Marty swims a bit through the crease on a shot that doesn’t get through, and just when we think Blobby Holik is going to catch him out of position from the point, he springs to his feet and makes a whippy glove save.
8:12 For the first time in months the Devils get the puck in the offensive zone, and just as Schnookie mutters at the TV that she’s like to see the boys try to put together a decent scoring chance instead of just being happy with a lame-assed point shot, Zubrus tips Greener’s point shot just wide. That’s a little better.
7:12 We are trying to figure out why this game feels so remote; Pookie says it feels like a VS feed, and Schnookie suggests it’s because of the way Atlanta’s building looks on television. Boomer then finds what’s so off about it all: the blue stanchions and little lip thingie at the top of the boards. It’s so awful, and now that she’s pointed it out, it’s all we can see.
5:08 Chico is trying to make some point about Waddell (and no, we have no idea what that point is) when he says, “He knows everything every guy on his team ate yesterday. Whether it was duck, turkey, steak…” We finish for him, “Turducken.” This is, by the way, an easy question for Sutter to answer; what did the Devils eat yesterday? Oysters, oysters and more oysters.
2:48 We make an attempt to be bigger than you’d think we are when Holik skates toward a puck on the boards in his zone, misses it with his stick, and just topples over. Chico is not as gracious as we are, and cracks up. He then adds, “That’s no reflection on Bobby Holik’s skating style.”
1:59 The official scoresheet apparently says the Thrashers are out-chancing the Devils 3-1, but Chico tries to tell us it’s a “good news/bad news situation”. Pookie, always ready to repurpose a Wet, Hot American Summer quote: “The good news is… that there is no good news!”
1:47 Pando rattles a dump-in high around the glass, and it hits a stanchion and almost beats Hedberg to the net on the ricochet. It is as depressing as it sounds when Chico calls it “the best scoring chance the Devils have had in this period.”
0:52 Brookbank gets called for holding. Brook-BANK!
0:00 The best 52 seconds for the Devils in this period were that stretch of PK to end the frame. Pookie explains, “It’s almost as if at least three of the four guys out there knew what they were doing.”
We get an interview with Paulie, who looks shifty while Steve introduces him.
It appears the FSN crew took the holiday off — our intermission show is featuring a scintillating look at “the history of the goalie mask”. Wasn’t this feature shown on every other team’s channel two months ago? We also get a look at which Devils are on the All-Star Ballot, and, hilariously, Steve all but says that it’s a joke anyone would consider voting for Marty, Patty or Gio.
19:35 As the Thrashers set up their power play, we realize the camera now seems to be set about a half mile farther from the ice than it was in the first period.
18:35 Hossa gets called for interference after a bit of a run-in with Greener in the neutral zone. We didn’t see it, but don’t feel bad about it, because neither did Chico.
17:19 We are tremendously disappointed that we’ve not been told yet what the prize is for the PP unit that wins Sutter’s PP competition. Not that it really matters right now; it’s more like this power play is a study in which unit will give up the fewest short-handed chances.
15:41 Zach demonstrates some of his trademarked motor skillz by creating a scoring chance for Gio by just doggedly struggling against some Thrashers behind the net and making the puck squirt out in front through sheer force of will. Gio fans on the shot, though, and the play is whistled when Hedberg covers the puck as Zach pokes at it. Pookie, sounding a lot more inebriated than she is: “Zach’s trying a pickle-stacker!” Pause. “Or a pickle-stabber, even.”
14:24 We’d be lying if we said we weren’t pleasantly surprised by Asham on his against-the-grain tricky shot, following an even more pleasantly surprising rush by Paulie.
12:14 The teams trade rushes, but neither results in a shot. Schnookie: “The next time someone tries to tell me shot-blocking is exciting, I’m going to point them to this game.”
11:39 The Thrashers ice the puck, but in doing so manage to make to get a weird bounce that almost goes over Marty’s head and into the net. Doc nearly falls out of the broadcast booth in his excitement.
11:01 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! Pelley, realizing nothing’s good is coming from shooting from in front of the net, circles widely on a cycling play with Zubrus and whips the puck along the goal line to give the Devils a 1-0 lead. Kate the Great (visiting for the weekend): “I missed that completely.” Pookie: “So did Hedberg.” Mooooooooooose.
9:22 We come back from commercial to hear Chico saying, “This game needed a goal. It was like a turkey without gravy.” Pookie: “Or a moose without agility.”
8:32 Maddog hauls Hossa down while they both pursue a puck on its way out of the Atlanta zone; he lets up skating, looking over his shoulder and getting ready to complain about the call… but there is no penalty on the play. Huh. We can’t blame the Thrashers fans for booing that.
7:50 Marty breaks from the pattern of the last game he played in Atlanta, and doesn’t let the Thrashers score on their first shot after a lengthy offensive-zone drought. (In this case it’s a snappy glove save on Hossa.)
4:52 Whitey misjudges a puck skipping through the neutral zone, and suddenly it looks like Kovalchuk is going to get a breakaway. PaulieMartinNation’s devotion is rewarded, though, when Paulie makes a diving, sweeping check to save the day.
3:58 Travis finds himself the recipient of some hard work by Zach and gets a great chance in the slot. His first shot is ineffective, but his follow-up draws a hooking penalty against Klee.
3:47 Some Thrasher takes another hooking penalty, putting the Devils up two men. Kate the Great: “Anyone want to bet the Thrashers score on this?” Pookie: “No bet.” KTG: “Anyone want to bet the Thrashers outshoot the Devils, too?” Pookie: “No bet.”
3:36 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Paulie cranks a point shot through a giant Travis screen that just squeaks over Hedberg’s glove. 2-0 Devils, and PaulieMartinNation is in an absolute tizzy. And yes, we should have taken that bet.
2:17 The announcement is made that Travis tipped Paulie’s goal, and PaulieMartinNation has to take down the celebratory bunting around the town square. Of course, we’ll take the acorn for Travis, so we’re not complaining. Too much.
1:48 Oduya, showing off how few lessons he’s learned in the last few games, hands Kovalchuk the puck right at the faceoff dot to Marty’s left. Marty, though, has learned a bit about what to expect when Oduya’s carrying the puck out from behind the net, and is ready to get a piece of the puck on the high shot.
0:49 Pando gets called for high sticking. We are appalled at his lack of discipline.
0:08 We discover that cats + TV zapper = disaster, but unlike when the game got turned off in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, we don’t come back to find the Devils have given up a goal.
0:00 Now that was a good period for the Devils. We get an interview with Pelley instead of Travis (it’s a TRAVISty! HAHAHAHAHAHA!), and, well, Rod doesn’t give the world’s most scintillating interview. Perhaps next time FSN could show us a piece about the history of the goalie mask instead?
FSN spends literally this entire intermission talking about All-Star balloting. It is hard to express how little we care about this.
Okay, we lied. FSN also takes some time here to discuss the points leaders for the three area teams; we get a graphic showing how Zach, Jagr and Comrie are all doing. Pookie says, “You know what makes me sad about this graphic? It makes me sad to wonder why the Rangers and Islanders can’t have a player like Parise.” Hee hee! It never gets old!
PaulieMartinNation comes back from intermission in full ululation because they’ve given the goal back to Paulie. In giving us the news, Doc talks at length about pancakes – he’s clearly using code either to tell us about Ms. Pancake or to alert us that Paulie’s using Boxworthy as a pancake mule again.
19:02 Kovalchuk heads to the bench to get his calibration corrected; the Thrashers set him up twice on the PP to rip huge shots from the point, but he missed wide both times.
16:50 Madden and Pando decide puck support isn’t necessary while in the defensive zone against Kovalchuk. Whitey and Paulie keep retrieving the puck from Thrashers, and Maddog and Pando keep standing around watching them. Fortunately, nothing comes of it.
15:41 A harmless-looking three-abreast rush into the Devils zone almost turns into disaster on a nice cross-ice pass, but Perrin just tips it wide. These are not the same Thrashers from the second period.
13:22 A goofy-assed broken play results in a chance for Little that makes Marty fall flat on his back well out of the crease on a great stick check, but just before we can freak out too much, Sarge calmly sweeps the rebound out to the boards. Schnookie: “I liked the last period much more than this one.” Pookie: “Me too.”
12:29 Doc’s call includes the phrase, “Bobby Holik, surrounded by red and black.” Schnookie: “Poor red and black, having to surround Bobby Holik.”
12:04 Now that Zach has the goal scoring lead for the Devils, he’s put a hex on Madden and Pando. Consequently, Madden is unable to blast the puck through Hedberg on a two-on-one. On the ensuing whistle we get a “Cam Janssen update”, and Doc says, “The fans miss him.” We chorus, “No we don’t.” Doc adds, “We’re hoping for December” for his return. Boomer mutters darkly, “We’re hoping for July.”
9:51 Hedberg lunges out of his net to freeze a rebound off the boards from a Greener shot that bubbled wide, finally giving the Thrashers a break from the relentless cycle of Zubrus, Langer and Sarge. That was the kind of offensive-zone pressure we thought was going to be the hallmark of the Sutter Era, so we appreciate this rare sighting of it.
9:03 Dupuis slithers in behind the Devils D and makes a zigzagging move on Marty. Marty, however, gets a roar of approval from the denizens of stately IPB Manor when he deploys his go-go-gadget toe to stymie Dupuis.
7:12 Sarge and Langer get a long two-on-one and Langer rings his shot off the inside of the pipe, with the rebound whizzing just past Sarge’s chest on its way out. Doc spends the next full minute of play insistent that he saw the net “bulge” on the play; the replay proves him wrong.
4:58 Everyone on both teams lets up for a moment in front of Marty and the broken play that follows turns into a great chance for Little. Once again, he just shoves the puck wide.
3:39 Kovalchuk tries to swagger right over Mottau but finds himself the victim of a cold-blooded stick-check. Doc calls the play, “Kovalchuk… but Mottau says ‘no’!” Pookie: “Mottau says what?” Schnookie, as Mottau: “‘Nev-ah!!”’
2:11 The Thrashers swarm around the Devils zone, and Pookie begins to complain, “Why can’t the Devils –” Just then, Holik tosses a blind pass out from behind the net that finds Gio in the high slot. Pookie, perkily: “Oh!”
1:05 Hedberg vacates the net. Ooooh.
0:27 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Zach’s attempts at hexing Pando have no power – a great sequence demonstrating patience, calm, cooperation and sharing among the Devils in the defensive zone leads to an empty netter for Pando. 3-0 Devils, and Pando now has eight goals this season. Pookie points out he always scores in games in which he takes penalties. Goon it up, Pando!
0:00 Well! That was delightful! A shutout for Marty, on a night where he had to look great on a few occasions, but where the team’s defensive play was cohesive and steady from start to finish. And PaulieMartinNation and PandoNation are dancing in the streets, arm in arm, singing joyous carols of triumph and glory. Good times.